November 01, 2011 10:19
The Seoul Central District Court on Monday acquitted former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook of receiving illegal campaign funds. Han (67), who was prime minister under President Roh Moo-hyun between 2006 and 2007, was accused of receiving W900 million (US$1=W1,106) from property developer Han Man-ho.
The businessman told prosecutors he gave Han Myeong-sook the money in three separate payments in 2007 in the form of cash, checks and U.S. dollars but changed his story during the trial and denied giving her any money. The court said it found her innocent since the businessman's account lacked credibility.
Han Myeong-sook had been indicted on a separate charge of receiving US$50,000 from former Korea Express president Kwak Young-wook in return for promoting an acquaintance but was cleared of the charges in April.
The court said the sole evidence proving that the ex-prime minister received the W900 million is Han Man-ho's word, "but the account is incorrect or inconsistent and cannot be viewed as credible."
The court said Han Man-ho's slush fund ledgers submitted as evidence by prosecutors may be construed as evidence that he managed illegal slush funds, but that does not prove that he gave the funds to the former prime minister.
But Han Meyong-sook's secretary Kim Moon-sook (51) was sentenced to 10 months in prison and a two-year suspended sentence for receiving W55 million and a corporate credit card from the property developer. Prosecutors said they could not understand the court's decision to acquit Han, even though there was more incriminating evidence against her than against her secretary, and pledged to appeal.
Han Myeong-sook said the ruling is a warning to prosecutors who were "politically motivated."
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